Philippians 2:9-13 (Work out Salvation)

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(If you’d like to read the first studies posted on Philippians, go here)

Read: Philippians 2:9-13

Key Verse:  “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” –Philippians 2:12b-13

Dig Deeper:  There is a lot of confusion surrounding this verse and its meaning.  I believe that I am saved by faith through Christ’s sacrifice and grace, “and not by works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I believe the message of this verse is a healthy reverence for God the Father, and that we should not be stagnant as Christians.  Even though we can never earn salvation, as Christians, we are called to a higher purpose (Romans 8:28), a higher standard of living.  We should earnestly desire to seek after Him, following His will and not our own in everything that we do.

As Christians living in the world, we buy into the self-focused messages of the day.  We make excuses for ourselves.  I hear the phrase all the time, “I’m human and I’m going to sin, and that’s okay.”  Whether it is large sin, or small, this is a dangerous attitude.  We cannot give ourselves permission to sin, when God calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16).  Yes, we are human and there is grace if we fall.  But, I don’t buy into the idea that we can’t help it.  I know this isn’t a common interpretation of this verse, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that with every temptation, God will make a way that we can bear it.  The verse preceding this states, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” The entire passage is about sin and desires.  I believe that when we are tempted, God will provide a way out.  We do not have to sin, and I believe that every sin is a conscious choice that we make to go against God’s will, and that we should fight against ourselves daily to rid our lives of sin.

Verse 13 is key:  “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  We are born into sin.  Our nature is sin.  Although we are called to fight against that, we cannot do it alone.  It is God who works in us to allow us to withstand temptation.  It is God working in us that gives us the strength to fight the temptations of our flesh.  However, we still have free will.  We have to choose to live for Him, daily.

Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit would lead me away from temptation and help me as I seek to live for you, and your higher calling.  I pray that you would reveal to me areas of my life in which I have become complacent.  Reveal my sin and shortcomings so that I can work to replace them with YOU in my life.  Thank you, Lord, for your grace and your mercies new every morning.


  1. says

    I have been studying in Romans and have found the very same things to be true. Yes, we are called to holiness- reading the Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer- and it has been so inspiring- encouraging me to press on, go deeper- to pursue God. Thank you for sharing your heart- God bless you.

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